Highlights from 02-13-2013
OIL AND NATURAL GAS
Bill reshapes state's regulatory oversight
The Senate Resources and Environment Committee approved a shakeup of the state's Oil and Natural Gas Commission.
Currently, Gov. Butch Otter, the attorney general, the secretary of state, the state controller and the public schools superintendent regulate the industry.
The newly constituted panel would have five governor-appointed members. One person would have knowledge of drilling, another would have geology experience and one technical expertise in water issues. Two would be landowners, one with and one without mineral leases.
The idea is to put decision-making in the hands of people with experience and knowledge, reducing elected officials' conflicts of interest.
The Associated Press
What to do with an extra $34 million?
House Education Committee members on Wednesday began making their pitches to spend money left on the table by an education reform task force.
Three priorities emerged. Without discussing specific figures, they want the $34 million to go to professional development for implementing Common Core standards, teacher salaries and technology in schools.
Gov. Butch Otter and Superintendent of Public Instruction Tom Luna set aside $33.9 million in their 2013-14 budget proposals to pay for ideas from Otter's task force. But the task force won't convene again until March 15, and will spend months developing recommendations.
"I really see this as within our purview at this time, the $33.9 million," said House Education Committee Chair-man Reed DeMordaunt.
Clark Corbin,Idaho Education News
House OKs sales calls to Idahoans
The House voted 65-5 to lift a 13-year-old restriction barring phone and cable TV companies from calling existing customers to market new products or services.
A single Republican, Rep. Maxine Bell of Jerome, opposed the bill, which had also been panned by the Idaho attorney general's office as an unwanted intrusion on people's privacy.
The majority agreed with phone companies that it's unfair to forbid them from calling their customers to sell them Internet service.
Customers can ask not to be bothered.
The Associated Press
Senator pulls bill banning felons
Sen. Lee Heider, R-Twin Falls, pulled a bill designed to keep convicted felons from enrolling in Idaho's public schools hours before it was scheduled for a hearing in the Senate Education Committee Wednesday.
Heider said he realized the legislation could create unintended consequences for young people who get into trouble.
"The intent is to not have criminals who have been incarcerated for more than a year go back to high school," Heider said Wednesday. "But it's not to punish the kid on the playground who has a fight with his buddy over a girlfriend, or is getting into trouble and may have mental challenges."
He says he's not sure if he will seek amendments or drop it for the year.
Hannah Furfaro, The Associated Press
HEALTH AND WELFARE
Former legislator to work for state
Joyce Broadsword, a new Bonner County commissioner, is stepping down one month after taking office.
Broadsword accepted a job as regional director of the Idaho Department of Health and Welfare. The former four-term state lawmaker served as vice chair of the Senate Health and Welfare Committee.
Bonner County Daily Bee
Pilot program could go statewide
The Senate Education Committee approved a plan to turn an early-graduation pilot program into a full-fledged program.
Under the Mastery Advancement Program, early graduates can receive a college scholarship worth 35 percent of the school district's annual average daily attendance rate. The school district would still get 35 percent of the ADA. The remaining 30 percent would be returned to the general fund - making the program a potential money-saver for the state.
A 2010 law allowed 21 school districts and three charter districts to try it. SB 1028, co-sponsored by Sens. Steven Thayn, R-Emmett, and Branden Durst, D-Boise, would make MAP a statewide program.
Kevin Richert,Idaho Education News
House OKs bill to ban overseas voting
The House State Affairs committee introduced legislation Wednesday that keeps former Idahoans who live abroad from voting in city council and other municipal elections.
Federal absentee laws would allow those citizens to vote in national elections. The bill would not bar military personnel from voting in local races.
Coeur d'Alene Republican Rep. Kathleen Sims says the goal is to prevent voter fraud. She introduced a similar bill last year to tighten standards for absentee ballots.
The Associated Press